Facebook launches U.S. Politics page

Gearing up for contentious 2010 campaign season, Facebook looks to help voters

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Gearing up for what is expected to be a contentious 2010 campaign season, Facebook took the wraps off its U.S. Politics on Facebook page Thursday morning.

The social networking firm said that the new page will keep track of how U.S. politicians and political campaigns are using Facebook to communicate with voters.

"Facebook is a tremendous tool for increasing transparency, collaboration and information sharing between politicians and citizens," said Andrew Noyes, a spokesman for Facebook. "And the U.S. Politics on Facebook page will be a hub for much of that activity during the 2010 campaign season and beyond."

Social networking sites, like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, became hot beds for politics during the 2008 presidential campaign.

For example, observers note that now-President Barack Obama seemingly showed other politicians the benefits of harnessing the power of the Web. The then-senator went beyond the somewhat static Web pages of most past campaigns and tapped the power of Web 2.0 tools, including Facebook, YouTube, blogs and discussion boards, to capture the attention of potential voters -- particularly young voters.

Since then, a host of political figures, including former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, have started their own pages on sites like Facebook and Twitter, and use them as a primary means of communication.

Just this week, former president George W. Bush joined the social networking world via Twitter and Facebook.

Bush gained a quick following, with more than 70,000 people following his Facebook page, and 7,000 at his Twitter address, as of Thursday morning.

Facebook asserts that its pages helped register nearly 60,000 voters, and that nearly 1 million people used a Facebook application to remind friends to vote.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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